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Trash talk: How to properly dispose of hard-to-recycle items

Here's what to do with those hard-to-recycle items like electronics, batteries and light bulbs.

Knowing how to dispose of batteries properly is good for the environment.

Stop and think before you throw those old electronics, batteries and light bulbs in the trash. Recycling is a better option. (Plus, it's illegal to leave them on the curb in some states.)

Most electronic waste and batteries contain toxic heavy metals that can seep into soil and water. Recycling these products not only keeps heavy metals out of the soil and water, but also helps reuse materials that require energy to mine and manufacture.

In general, you can recycle old electronics, batteries and light bulbs at hazardous waste facilities, county recycling centers or community hazardous waste collections. See below for more specific guidelines for each item.

How can I dispose of electronics?

Make sure to erase any personal data. If the electronics work, consider donating them. If they aren't reusable, search for a certified recycling location in your area. The results may include:

  • Electronics retailers with take-back or trade-in programs
  • TV or electronics repair shops
  • Electronics recycling companies
  • Manufacturer recycling programs
  • Charitable organizations

Where do I dispose of batteries?

Recycle any rechargeable, lithium, lithium ion and zinc air batteries instead of tossing them. Here's how to dispose of batteries:

Can light bulbs be recycled?

Compact fluorescent lamps contain small amounts of mercury, so handle them with care — especially any broken bulbs. You should be able to recycle mercury-containing bulbs through local hardware retailers, utility-run collection programs or by using mail-back services.

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